The Female Gaze: Great Expectations

Each week in The Female Gaze, Faith Newport engages the trends, events, and issues that affect women—and the men who care about them.

Between one thing and another this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece from Good Women Project. While I don’t agree with everything in it, something about what the author said regarding self-worth sounded familiar to me. I don’t struggle with a pornography habit, but I’m in love with someone who does—and whenever it makes an appearance in our relationship, I head into a downward spiral of doubt, loathing, and resentment. It’s not pretty.

My husband, who is in every other respect a truly fabulous man (and a great catch), has had to listen to more than his fair share of my insecure ranting over the course of our relationship, so I asked him to list the things he hears the most during those times. In no particular order:

“I feel like I’m trying to be perfect”
“I’m not good enough”
“Ugly”
“I hate my body”
“Our marriage is a sham”
“You only care about sex”
“Our relationship is shallow”
“I should be better–what can I do?”
“My problems push you towards other things (i.e., porn)”
“We’re not happy/We’d both be better off apart”

While I’ll never try to tell anyone that pornography isn’t a serious problem—looking into my husband’s hurting eyes after he backslides even a little will forever convince me otherwise—I’m having to face the reality that the person who was hurting our relationship the most was me.

Most of the statements above are focused on one person: Me.

Isn’t porn a serious betrayal? Of course it is. But that doesn’t justify how I was choosing to treat Joshua as a result. Jesus said we have got to turn the other cheek, and that means looking the other person in the eyes and loving them despite the possibility of getting hurt again—or even the certainty of it. Instead, I was letting my insecurities dictate my response to a man who has always given everything he has to show me that I am first in his heart, a man who is tender with me, a man who is genuinely good in so many ways and reflects Christ to me whenever I am lost. And then I let that response trigger distance and mistrust between us. All because I doubted my own worth.

Ladies, let’s make one thing very clear: Your worth, our worth, is not determined by our bodies, or our seduction skills, or our ability to make a man want us more than the airbrushed model in a bikini. You are not the ones required to fight this battle. Before I got married, several women I look up to told me that once I was his wife there would be “things I could do.”

There’s nothing you can do. It’s not about you.

It will still happen after you buy that cute outfit, lose the weight, dance to sexy club music in your lingerie, or try that new position. It will still happen if you had sex five times that week (above average, by the way), and even if there were tons of fireworks.

Fireworks by the bucketload, and it won’t work. It’s not about you.

My husband and I have been married for almost a year. We’ve been a couple for five. This has been the thorn in our sides the entire time, both before and after our marriage. He struggled with pornography long before he met me, and it didn’t stop when we got together.

It’s not about me—but I made it my problem anyway and decided to bend over backwards trying to fix it. I tried everything, including the Christian-y stuff like prayer and accountability. I even fasted for several days at one point and gave up chocolate for almost a month. Ugh. Looking back, I had a lot of self-righteous determination and very little faith about the whole thing. The truth is, any issues that anybody has are firmly God’s job to take care of. We can set our boundaries and point out some helpful Scripture references that make it obvious how downright damnable their behavior is, but that’s about it. And, really, I don’t even want to do that most of the time because I’ve got too many logs in my own eye more often than not—which leaves me on pretty shaky ground when judging others.

The only way for Joshua to win his inner battles with sexual temptation has been for him to take them to the Cross and leave them there. And not in a one time, conversion-type way, but every single time and after every temptation and every failure. It may not always “fix” things on the outside, and it won’t always end the behavior pattern, but when you give something to God with 100% of yourself, in His grace that counts as victory anyway.

So, where does that leave us, girls?

We need to give grace to ourselves. We need to let ourselves be the size we are, have the sexual appetite we have, and look the way we do. We have to let the love of God extend to our selves enough to accept that even the best version of us isn’t going to look like the girl on the screen.

And then we have to let the love of God be there for our men.

It’s not easy, I know. But, once I’ve done that, it’s going to be a lot easier for me to deal with my husband’s inevitable humanity. I can be kind to him, I can forgive him, and I can be by his side as he gets back on his feet—because it’s not about me. The grace is for both of us.

Not only is that a beautiful thing, but I dare say it might even be sexy.

About Faith Newport

Faith Newport writes, knits, drinks lattes, and sings in the shower in a small Midwestern town. She lives with two cats, too many books, and her very patient husband. Follow her on Twitter @knittybarista.

  • Daniel

    Thank you for your honest vulnerability in posting about this very personal problem. It isn’t a “respectable” sin, like pride or gossip. It’s one of those “if you were a REAL Christian, you wouldn’t do it!!” kind of problems, where “Christian” culture puts you outside of the fold if you’re tempted in this way.

    But only by shedding light on such issues can we hope to deal with them. I read about a survey that when asked not a single man in the random sample denied viewing porn. Not one. I’m not saying it to minimize it, but to point out that it is a struggle for EVERY man (and a huge chunk of women, too.)

    And you’re exactly right–it’s not about you not being attractive enough for your husband. It’s not about you. The same for physical or emotional affairs–it’s not because the partner isn’t good enough that tempted the wayward spouse to do what they did. You can do everything right, and it still can happen.

    Only by God’s grace can we love each other, despite our failings–which are heinous sins that sent Jesus to the cross. We can’t minimize them, but we can love through them…not in a superior “I’m better than you but I still love you” attitude (even Jesus didn’t do that, and He actually had the right to); but with the grace that a fellow saved sinner can offer another.

  • KJ

    It may not be about you, but those insecurities are going to spill over into your marriage bed no matter how hard you try. What I don’t get is the whole ‘I can never be that girl in the movies he watches.’ Why not? Fine, none of us have the perfect airbrushed bodies, but what about the attitude? There’s this whole mindset among Christians that women are supposed to be this chaste thing in bed. WHY, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD? Wives, if he likes porn, get thee to a photograher who does boudoir shots! He’ll love you for it lol. There’s nothing wrong with being a sexual creature in marriage. Embrace it – God made sex to be enjoyed by both men and women. It’s not supposed to add to the already lengthy list of things YOU CHOOSE to be insecure about

  • Faith

    Kim–I’m all for women having the healthy, fun sex lives God designed marriage to give us! I even mention a couple ways I ‘spiced up’ our routines as a part of this post.

    But I think it’s important to recognize that this kind of thing can happen to couples even after they have great chemistry. It’s also important to remember that we are not obligated to imitate anything in pornography, and that it doesn’t determine the standards for our sexuality. Getting glamour shots just to capture the ‘attitude’ of a porn actress seems unneccessary to me–my own desires and attitudes are what make me sexy, not posing like someone else.

  • KJ

    I’m not saying that porn needs to be the standard for your marriage’s sexuality. I just think that a lot of people (especially christian females) deny their own sexuality, which can lead to problems. And sidenote, the whole thing of getting glamour shots is to boost your own ego (aka lessen your own insecurities) while turning your man on with material he obviously likes. You may not want to be the wild girl in the movies, but 1) what if that’s what he wants and 2) what’s wrong with being a nympho when you’re married to the guy?

  • KJ

    What I never understood was why the whole ‘get out of your comfort zone’ Christian idea is applied to everything from missions to whatever but never to the bedroom. We’re supposed to be ok that husbands may not be satisfied in bed? He’s supposed to settle because you’re insecure or you won’t go beyond certain boundaries that he finds too conservative? It seems like a double standard to me.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    KJ,

    What you are saying reminds me of a seven year old complaining that he is ‘bored’ on summer break. A man ought not be primarily seeking his own pleasure in the bedroom; he ought to be seeking his wife’s pleasure. If he found his greatest pleasure in her pleasure and not his own, he might find his sex life more rewarding.

  • Charles

    http://www.covenanteyes.com

    I’ve been a paying customer for five years, and I recommend the service without reservation. I will not allow an internet capable device in my possession without Covenant Eyes or something similar. Pornography is just too dangerous to even allow the opportunity. Of course, I suppose the opportunity is still there, but if I exercise it, I’ll hear about it from my wife and a couple of close friends. It’s $90 or so a year, and money well spent.

  • KJ

    Brad,

    Ok, so how about I reverse your statement?

    A WOMAN ought not be primarily seeking HER own pleasure in the bedroom; SHE ought to be seeking HER HUSBAND’S pleasure. If SHE found HER greatest pleasure in HIS pleasure and not HER own, SHE might find HER sex life more rewarding.

    So…what if the man isn’t satisfied? If your statement is true for a man, it’s also true for a woman. There is no double standard. Bottom line, if the guy isn’t satisfied. Wife fail.

  • KJ

    Oh Brad, to make it clear – I’M FEMALE lol

  • KJ

    Oh Brad, to make it clear – I’M FEMALE lol

    That’s why I don’t understand the whole idea of being satisfied/comfortable with yourself when your husband isn’t satisfied. Sure, it’s his fault that he’s looking at porn, but if that were MY husband, I’d be going crazy buying lingerie, poles, etc. (Not that I don’t already, but maybe that’s why my husband isn’t looking elsewhere – not that I’m saying it’s the author’s fault that her husband is looking at porn).

  • GK

    Porn has never made me feel threatened in my relationships. In fact, it gives me a lot of insight into what my partner desires sexually, and that helps me be the one that fulfills all his fantasies. I know it’s not a “Christian” thing to say, but I watch porn WITH my partner and we both enjoy it and learn a lot about each others needs. If anything, it’s brought us closer together.

    That probably goes against everything you believe in, but maybe you need to re-think WHY you believe the things you do about sex and pornography. Don’t point to an isolated Bible verse that says what you want it to say or what you’ve heard preachers say your whole life. For the sake of your sex sanity and your marriage, THINK THROUGH all your current beliefs and make sure there’s a foundation for them. Don’t make it an emotional thing, and don’t make it a “God says so” thing, because if you can’t give a logical, valid explanation for your stance, you probably shouldn’t have a firm stance to begin with.

  • KJ

    I think the article may be misnamed. Perhaps ‘low expectations’ is better. A lot of Christian women have hang ups about their sexuality for one reason or another. However instead of fixing their insecurities, they demand their husband lower their expectations and settle for what their wife is comfortable with. How is that right? If that’s right, why can’t a guy look at his wife and frankly say he’s not satisfied? Why can’t she step up and at least attempt to meet his high expectations? Wouldn’t that be an act of selfless love towards her husband? Sheesh, wives, a little less Proverbs 31 and more Song of Solomon.

  • http://www.StephenNewport.com Stephen Newport

    These last few posts are spot on!

    Another reason why waiting for sex til marriage is ridiculous. First night of being married you quickly realize your sexual expectations are totally off (or, worse yet, you have no idea what you want out of sex.) Then you each resort to whatever needs you have your partner isn’t fulfilling.

    KJ & Gk, good posts.

  • Adam E

    GK,

    Pornography exploits (not to mention objectifies and degrades) women. By supporting the porn industry you are supporting, and paying for further exploitation. At the very least, that should be enough for you to to boycott porn as a Christian. Somebody has to (sometimes with little choice) suffer so you and your partner can enjoy. Maybe you should think about it a bit harder… That there’s a reason why a loving God “says so” – and it’s not because he’s a fun hating naysayer. God created sex – that makes him pretty awesome and into fun and enjoyment. He’s just not into exploitation. He’s not into abuse. He’s not into devaluing something from a beautiful expression of love in marriage into something cheap,degrading and mass produced.

    KJ – I agree with the concept: “some women are prudish and embarrassed of their sexuality” and Christian women in particular should be free in that area. I also agree that women need to own up to their insecurities and (with God’s grace) go about working on them. But disagree that a woman should try and compete with someone paid (and sometimes not) to fake sex. It’s just not real.

  • KJ

    Adam, to clarify, I’m not telling wives to PRETEND to be someone else. I’m challenging wives to actually CHANGE and become that superwoman in bed! All this Christian talk of bettering ourselves, striving for excellence, glorifying God, etc. WHY ISN’T THAT APPLIED TO THE BEDROOM??? Why do we have to accept ourselves if we are sorely lacking and expect our husbands to settle??? Sick of the hypocrisy!

  • Joshua

    I am said husband from this relationship and I must say that I am completely satisfied in the relationship that I have with my wife. I did not turn to porn because I was unsatisfied in my relationship, I am trying to turn away from it because I am completely satisfied in my relationship. I was struggling with it long before I met my wife, and it has gotten better only because of her.

    Adam – I agree with what you said. Porn objectifies and degrades women. Whether a woman is okay with her husband watching porn or not, it is still negative to women as a whole.

    KJ – You speak of that which you clearly have no experience. I agreed to let her post this to serve as hope for Christian couples, especially women, who have to deal with this issue, which you have said that you do not. Just because your husband does not look at porn doesn’t make your relationship better than ours. I have never felt like I was settling because my wife doesn’t want to try new things, because neither of those are true. And, when we do try something new, it is for our mutual pleasure rather than because the porn controls our relationship.

    Stephen – Your argument is invalid, especially in this case, because our first time was perfect. Instead of having to have had practice with other people, we trusted in each other and figured it out together and it made it much more special and now we have a memory of a great first time while knowing that that intimacy is something we have only ever shared with each other.

    No offense meant to anybody, but this conversation has gotten way off base with what the post was about and who it was directed to, and it has gotten a bit out of hand. I love my wifeand am completely satisfied with our very healthy sex life and it is because of that that I have decided to take steps to eradicate porn from my life.

  • KJ

    Joshua, to clarify, my husband used to look at porn heavily prior to and early on in our marriage. He made the decision himself to stop; I didn’t nag him into it. Personal choice for him that did not involve me directly. I knew full well that he was into porn, but that never made me feel like I was in a competition or insecure. I have always been a high drive female with the reputation among friends as the walking sex encyclopedia. My husband has said porn just isn’t as interesting as me. Whatever unrealistic expectations porn supposedly gives men, apparently I exceeded his (and believe me, he wasn’t into the softcore fluff). I didn’t become like this to fend off evil porn stars. This is how I have always been, and it’s heavily contributed to our marriage. Sex isn’t everything, but it’s more important than most Christians think.

  • Joshua

    KJ,

    I couldn’t agree more that sex is more important than some think, but what you just described in your post is what is going on for us. We are still early on in our marriage and I have made the decision to stop. Like I said, I am very satisfied in the bedroom. We try new stuff all the time and it’s great, so I have made the decision to stop, but it is not an overnight transition with how long I struggled with it. And it is not my wife’s fault that it made her feel insecure. It does that to a lot of women, which is entirely understandable. Nor are you a better person than her because you didn’t feel insecure. I think you and I are pretty much on the same page here, you are just making false assumptions about people that you don’t know.

  • Ben

    Hi folks, just a couple of thoughts.

    First, I think it’s wise to get away from the notion of “cause.” Pornography is a personal sin that has effects on more than just the self, which is just one piece of what makes it so dangerous. But it is not a reaction to “causes” or “circumstances”, nor should its existence in a person’s life be a measuring stick of the outside influences they face.

    This is a lot like the problem of the prosperity gospel… the foolish idea that money and riches and health automatically flow from the right kind of relationship with God and so can be used as an indicator of spirituality. In a similar way, the existence of pornography is not a fair or helpful measuring stick of the health of the marriage or a couple’s sex life.

    What Faith does in this article, quite helpfully, is to turn AWAY from the childish thought that we can come up with some set of controls that will eradicate sin in our lives, and to turn TOWARD the cross as our only source of hope for redemption and healing. True Christian maturity is grounded in the humility of knowing that in ourselves and in our own strength we are nothing, but that in Christ all things can be made new for those who trust and respond in faith.

    So my hope is that each of us, regardless of how well God has allowed us to fight THIS particular battle, will recognize that all of us stand helpless and needy before Christ, and that we can show each other grace as we each continue learning what it means to honor Him with our lives.

  • GK

    Saying that porn is degrading to women seems to be saying that sex is degrading to women. I’m sorry, but I just can’t understand that perspective. Perhaps there are some sub-genres that are more degrading, but in general, two people have consensual sex on film is not degrading, and I resent your claim that it is. And saying that someone has to suffer in order for me and my partner to enjoy it is just ridiculous. Do you really think that all women in porn films are simply being abused, forced, doing it against their will or only for the money? Some women actually LIKE sex, you see. I really can’t understand why you all seem to think that porn is degrading and exploitative. Certainly, not everyone has the same sexual desires and fantasies, but what’s wrong with exploring? Personally, I tend to thoroughly ENJOY a lot of sexual activities that you probably deem degrading. Is that sinful? What if I video tape myself and my partner having sex and then watch it later? Is that sinful? Is that degrading? Why is it different if my partner and I watch another couple having sex and act it out ourselves later (or during)? I don’t understand where you’re drawing your lines or why you even have those lines drawn. Point me to a specific New Testament passage that says anything about pornography and I’ll shut up.

  • KJ

    Joshua, you are under the assumption that I’m against watching porn. I could care less if my husband watched it or not (any more than he cares that I read erotic fiction). That is why I emphasized that it was his own decision – instigated by him for whatever reasons he came up with himself. Not sure why he stopped, I’ve never asked, I’ve never cared. For all I know, he may have quit because he thought it was wrong or he may have quit because I was more interesting or a host of other reasons. Doesn’t matter – the reason is not relevant since we are discussing how females react and not how a man should handle porn addiction. And my lack of freaking out at him and letting him come to terms with his “problem” (or whatever you want to call it) on his own like an adult is exactly what made it easier for him to quit. I didn’t make a big self-centered deal out of it.

    Woman is the more insecure gender by far, and too often women expect others to change to facilitate her insecurities, which is impractical and at times flat out selfish. However, when someone turns to her and tells HER to change, it’s somehow wrong.

    Man, I hate women. I could never be a lesbian. lol

  • KJ

    Interesting to note while we’re talking about insecurities – I notice the author has declined to comment further and is having her husband speak in her defense. It’s hard to put stock in an article when a female author won’t defend her claims to other women who are questioning. (I’m assuming you’re female, GK). This is a woman’s arena – for women, by women. Or at least that’s what I thought based on the name Female Gaze.

  • Ruth

    I have to disagree with GK. The love between a man and a woman is a special gift that God has given to us. His Word says that the marriage bed is undefiled. The woman and the man should be meeting eact others needs, and this should not come from another source outside of the marriage. If you aren’t meeting each others needs it doesn’t mean you both can’t change so that you grow closer sexually. My husband and I were both virgins when we married and things weren’t perfect at first. After 30 years we know each other in ways that would be impossible if we did not have this oneness that comes from only knowing each other. Thank goodness neither of us have ever watched porn. I am careful about what I watch and read, and he is the same. I pray that this couple will continue to grow closer through their struggle with porn.

  • Brittany

    Here’s something to consider: if pornography is essentially prostitution (in that both involve an exchange of money for sexual intimacy), then the Bible’s unequivocal denouncement of prostitution in the Old and New Testaments seems to be sufficient reason to believe that pornography is also sin.

  • Ruth

    Thanks Brittany, for putting it so well. It is one of many sins that can come into our lives, and thankfully we are forgiven in Christ. That being said, we need to turn away from this sin like all others. I may not have a problem in this area, but I certainly battle other sins in my life and have to ask for forgiveness in these areas (slothfulness, gluttony, etc,)

  • Alan Noble

    KJ,

    Yeah, KJ, seriously, don’t try to psychoanalyze Faye’s reasons for not commenting. Maybe she’s busy. Maybe she doesn’t think this discussion is productive. Whatever her reasons, I’d ask you to be charitable and assume she has her reasons. Thanks.

  • http://wilsonstation.com Jon Trott

    Wow. I think the original post is great, and the husband’s post is right on.

    Anyone who thinks pornography can be indulged in without (a) committing adultery (have we forgotten what Jesus said about lust of the eyes?!), (b) snapping sexuality off from its relational roots to turn it into something else entirely, and (c) hurting their spouse incredibly, is deluded.

    Look, if sex is what men and women are about — sex, and nothing more than that except incidental secondary things — go for it. But most women and (surprise) most men really do not think sex is all men and women are about. Sexuality is a wonderful thing. But it is not the only thing, or even the first thing.

    Porn takes sex and makes it non-relational. Even if a couple is viewing porn together, the porn changes the dynamics of that relationship. It is a bit like going to bed with your spouse and strangers.

    And yes, a woman should *not* for one second believe that her husband’s use of porn is about her. It isn’t. In fact, there’s nothing she can do that will make him stop using porn. Nothing. That decision is his and his alone. And his addiction — because porn is very addictive — is like all addictions not amenable to half-measures or “moderation.” It must be cut off at the root. Computer filters. Transparency with a trusted friend who will ask — without warning — “so how is the porn thing going?” There are plenty of other weapons out there for those seriously wanting to walk in purity outside their marriage (as well as hot intimacy within it).

    Guess I had me a rant. Faith, thank you for your wonderful post.

  • Daniel

    Well said, Jon.

  • Adam E

    Hi GK,

    Sex is created by God for the benefit of marriage. It is, in part, a shadow of the intimacy of the Godhead. I would argue that pleasure is a byproduct of that intimacy, not the purpose.

    Porn is created by mankind. For the pleasure of man (predominantly) and cares nothing for intimacy, and although many women agree to participate and “act” their enjoyment, it becomes a choice of necessiry or last resort. What child dreams of being filmed in explicit acts? What woman without abused background, insecurites or financial challenges would choose that life for herself? Answer me please. You are deceived my friend, and with respect, have been fooled by a lie.

    “that ” is the difference between sex and porn. It’s the difference between love and lust. Christ died for intimacy with us, not pleasure from us.

    Our highly sexualised culture has lied to you, and I grieve for you. the purpose of sex is not pleasure but intimacy. Pleasure comes from intimacy. If sex is for primarily pleasure then by all means, sleep with who you want. Life is not about pursuing our pleasures but finding pleasure in the intimacy in relationship with our spouse, our family and the Lord.

    Sex aids that intimacy, drawing two people together. Porn is a fantasy, that is not intimate in any form or shape.

    No one scripture explicirly points against pornography (no video), but all scripture protests and works against it.

    As a brother in Christ, I would plead with you to prayerfully consider my words, and lovingly call you to repentance, as we all need to do frequently. I pray I have not come across as arrogant, but as one who does not know you but seeks for your best.

    Blessings

  • KJ

    Adam, I happen to know quite a few women who have willingly chosen this lifestyle – women who absolutely love sex and you can’t deny the easy money. Not arguing the rightness or wrongness of watching porn here – just throwing it out there because there’s a misconception about these women being sex slaves (and to be honest, I know a couple other women who actually LOVE being one). I’m not saying it’s true across the board, sure there’s a problem with women being coerced into this sort of thing. But it’s not true for a lot of them.

  • GK

    Adam, I suggest you read through the Bible again. Biblically, sex is for the pleasure of MEN. Think about the terrible plight of women back in Biblical times. If a man just THOUGHT his bride wasn’t a virgin when they wed, he could have her killed, in the name of GOD. You know what? That’s not the kind of sex life I want. I’m sorry. That has nothing with the “shadow of the Godhead,” and if it does, I don’t serve that kind of God.

    And KJ is right. Not all women who go into porn have negative reasons for doing so. Have YOU ever met a porn star? Would you go out to lunch with one to talk with her? No? Jesus would have.

    And who, for the love of God, says that sex is not for pleasure? If God hadn’t wanted it to be for pleasure, he wouldn’t have made it pleasurable. Or maybe it’s not pleasurable for you because you have so many hang-ups about it? Your highly sexually-repressed Christian culture is lying to you, I’m afraid.

    Besides that, your claim that fantasy is not intimate is utterly false. One of the most intimate things a couple can do is divulge their deepest fantasies to each other and then fulfill them. That is binding and loving in a way that you will probably never understand, but that doesn’t negate the truth of it.

    Don’t grieve for me. I’m blissfully happy with my sex life, and the rest of my life.

  • Daniel

    I freely admit that I am no better than a porn star or any other sinner. I am a sinner, and my righteousness is as filthy rags.

    But I cannot conceive of porn ever being honoring to God. To create porn, actors engage in sexual acts with people who are not their spouses. That is adultery. On the off chance that the actors are married, they’re inviting potentially millions of strangers to view their most intimate acts. I cannot see how that is honoring the sanctity (I.e., “set-apart-ness”) of their marriage.

    Maybe “soft-core” porn doesn’t involve sexual acts. However, it attempts (and nearly universally succeeds) to titillate and entice the viewer to lustful thoughts about the person pictured. Again, I cannot see how this is honoring to God. Who am I to use someone else’s sin as a source of pleasure?

    As to some porn stars being happy with their lives and freely have chosen their careers? Of course some are like that. Many people are so spiritually blind that they have not–and perhaps never will in their lives–perceive their need for God, or actually think they are honoring Him in what they do. This is not at all surprising. It takes the grace of God to spiritually wake us up to our need for Him, and until that happens, we may go along our merry way and feel we have happy, fulfilled lives. Christ is only meaningful to those who know that they are desperately lost without Him. Those who pride themselves in their “religious life” like the Pharisees or those who pride themselves in their “liberation” or “self-actualization” will never feel their need for Him.

    But Christ is for losers like me, who are lost, weak and crippled. As Steve Taylor wrote: “And if they call it a crutch/Then you walk with pride/Your accusers have always been afraid to walk outside.”

  • Adam E

    Hi GK,

    You did not answer my question. And another: Would you be ok with your wife having sex with a porn star in a movie? And watching her enjoy another man, would that make you both closer as a couple? If the answer is no (which I can’t imagine would be yes), then your rhetoric is empty. On this point, your whole argument falls apart. It’s ok for someone else, just not for you and your marriage, or your kids.

    Please read my post before replying, as you have misquoted me. Let me rephrase in case I was unclear: Pleasure is not the primary purpose, but it is definitely a part of God intention for sex.

    And Yes, I would have lunch with a porn star. My wife and I are good friends with an ex prostitute, and we were able to offer her our friendship and a place to stay during and after that period of her life while she detoxed, slipped back and the whole roller coaster ride of recovery. I find it saddening that you judge me of being judgemental…

    Blessings

  • TTD

    “Adam, I suggest you read through the Bible again. Biblically, sex is for the pleasure of MEN. Think about the terrible plight of women back in Biblical times. If a man just THOUGHT his bride wasn’t a virgin when they wed, he could have her killed, in the name of GOD. You know what? That’s not the kind of sex life I want. I’m sorry. That has nothing with the “shadow of the Godhead,” and if it does, I don’t serve that kind of God.”

    Come now – you and I both know the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that the purpose of sex is for the pleasure of men. Be intellectually honest. The fact that “during biblical times” what you say was true, doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that the Bible condoned it. Large parts of the Bible are historical narrative, recording what happened, not what was prescribed behavior. Furthermore, I have a pretty good hunch as to who you are – and if I’m right I know you’ve heard of Song of Solomon and the interpretations thereof. If you’re going to use your vast knowledge of the Bible to persuade us (and I don’t mean that facetiously, if you are who I think you are then you do have an admittedly large body of Biblical knowledge to refer to) – then again, at least TRY to be intellectually honest and look to the totality of Scripture rather than cherry picking your examples.

    “And KJ is right. Not all women who go into porn have negative reasons for doing so. Have YOU ever met a porn star? Would you go out to lunch with one to talk with her? No? Jesus would have.”

    I love how you presume to go ahead and answer the question for Adam. Go read his reply. Enjoy your helping of crow – I usually like mine with BBQ sauce. I hear there’s some great BBQ places in Austin where you should be able to pick some up with relative ease.

    “And who, for the love of God, says that sex is not for pleasure? If God hadn’t wanted it to be for pleasure, he wouldn’t have made it pleasurable. Or maybe it’s not pleasurable for you because you have so many hang-ups about it? Your highly sexually-repressed Christian culture is lying to you, I’m afraid.”

    Adam never said that sex isn’t pleasurable – he only suggested that pleasure may not be the primary purpose for sex, but rather intimacy. The fact that you’re even taking offense to that is kind of silly and hair-splitting, don’t you think? Also, it’s a logical fallacy to go from “doing X has Y effect” to “Y must be the purpose of X”, which is what you seem to be arguing. It’s perfectly reasonable that God made sex pleasurable without pleasure being it’s primary purpose. Much like God made food tasty without tastiness being its primary purpose – eating food can induce pleasure, but as any homeless or starving person will tell you, that is most definitely an ancillary purpose.

  • TTD

    @Adam

    GK is female. Also, her likely answer to your question is an honest “Yes, I’m OK with that”. In fact, I would even go so far as guessing that she expects her boyfriend to be OK if SHE was the one who wanted to go have sex with porn stars and have it posted all over the internet.

    Even if I’m mistaken about her identity, you can only assume that someone who views sex as purely for pleasure and without any moral restrictions will answer that what you propose is completely OK. There are entire subcultures that revolve around group sex, watching people have sex, swapping partners, etc. You cannot base your arguments with someone like GK on the assumption that she’s not OK with most/all of those things.

    TL;DR – Just sayin’… make no assumptions about how she’s going to answer your questions or your rebuttals will have no legs to stand on.

    At the end of the day, GK is pretty much here to troll everybody. She’s not interested in a rational discussion about these things – she’s made her mind up, and if you disagree then you’re clearly illogical, stupid, and you can’t see through the lies of your sexually-repressed Christian culture. She enjoys arguing with believers on sites like this because (again, unless I’m mistaken about her identity) her knowledge of Scripture makes most of them easy targets. And who are we kidding, winning arguments on the internet against people in a culture you don’t approve of feels good! To her credit, she’s intelligent, cunning, and thinks critically. She also knows all your arguments ahead of time (or so she thinks). She’s just horribly misguided. So unless you’re also the sharp, intelligent, critically-thinking sort (which both the internet and Christianity seem to be in short supply of these days), then you stand a pretty good chance of losing your argument and going home looking like a fool. That doesn’t make your position any less valid, but just be careful :)

    TL;DR 2: “IT’S A TRAP!” – Akbar

  • GK

    Having a discussion based on intellect, exploring ideas other than the ones we have shoved down our throats every Sunday, admitting that the things we’ve been told might not be entirely accurate or relevant anymore … if that’s trolling, then yes, I’m trolling.

    I’m not, however, looking for easy targets. What I’m LOOKING for is a straight-forward discussion of a topic that most Christians are uncomfortable with and unwilling to part from orthodoxy on. As I said clearly in a post that is apparently still being being moderated, I am not here to judge or condemn any one else’s views. Discussion and debate (especially with people who disagree with you) should be, as the Bible says, iron sharpening iron. It should never descend into childish arguing, and I never intend for my part in the conversation to do so.

    TTD, I doubt you know who I am, but even if you do, my stance is firm and I’ve come to it because I have grown and matured as a person, not because I have “backslidden.” Christians today are so against questioning the Bible, the church teachings, and “the way it’s always been” and I cannot be a part of something so disconnected from logic. However, I will ALWAYS fight for your right as a human being to believe whatever you want and to practice your belief in whatever non-harmful-to-others way you see fit.

  • KJ

    Ok, everyone – to clarify (and i’m sick of using those two words)…GK AND I ARE BOTH FEMALES!!!

    Getting weary of this conversation. For being a female blog, there only seem to be males responding to GK and myself. Never thought I’d see the day a woman says ‘I’m ok if you watch porn’ only to have men freak out and contradict. LOL

    And don’t anyone mind TTD, I think he’s GK’s ex-husband trying to discredit her.

  • KJ

    Furthermore, I find it very interesting that GK and I constantly have to clarify our gender. Is it because we defend the male sexual nature? Are good little girls not supposed to do that? The assumption that we’re males is pretty telling on how Christians generally repress female sexuality.

  • Daniel

    GK, it seems from your comments that your presuppositions may be different from historic Christianity. (I certainly could be mistaken, and please forgive me if I am wrong). This makes it difficult to have rational discussion when many posters here are from a more orthodox point of view. The issue of porn or sex as a whole is ancillary; what is at the core, from which all differences arise, may be our views on the Bible and historic orthodoxy.

    If you believe that the Bible is God-breathed and does not contain error, but you interpret it in a different way than historically Christians have, then I think we can have a friendly, rational discussion about how to interpret it. If, however, you believe that it is NOT God-breathed, and/or it DOES contain error, that is another thing. Our presuppositions are worlds apart. Now, we could have a friendly, rational discussion on why you don’t accept the Bible as inerrant, but discussing side issues like porn or sex will be fruitless. It would be as pointless as discussing what chocolate dish you like the best with someone who intensely hates chocolate, or like having a conversation about beautiful paintings with a man born blind.

    KJ, unless males are not supposed to post here, then the problem is not too many males posting, rather, it is too many females NOT posting. Don’t blame us for having an opinion on male acts and motivations; rather, encourage your female friends to post on this forum to give it more gender-balance.

    And honestly, since we are talking about (at least in part, given the content of the original article) male use of porn, and about sex in marriages between men and women, it seems as though male opinions should be at least considered.

    Some women don’t have a problem with their husbands viewing acts of adultery and deriving pleasure from it. Well, that may be your opinion, and mine is contrary to it. My primary reason for being against it is derived from Biblical revelation. If that reason has no authority for you, well, we differ in some fundamental ways. If, however, you believe that I’m misunderstanding Biblical revelation, then I’m always interested in something I may have missed.

    But all this said, I hope everyone here–whether they agree with me or not, whether they have similar religious views or not–has a blessed Resurrection Sunday!!

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Hopefully we’ll all tire ourselves out soon. There are really just a couple of issues here. First, can Scripture be used to set certain guidelines around sex? Second, does Scripture need to be obeyed? And third, how do we react when someone else’s sin has an impact on us as well as them?

    I think it’s fairly clear to anyone who desires to interpret Scripture well that pornography falls under Christ’s point that adultery of the mind is sinful in God’s eyes. Further, the “one man, one woman,” family structure and the commands against adultery (Both Christ and the OT) are equally clear.

    Whether Scripture needs to be obeyed is in some sense a personal theological choice. However, to go against the teaching of Christ is a pretty clear statement that you don’t have any regard for his commands to be holy or set apart or a light to the world. At CAPC we have certainly committed ourselves to the notion that Scripture is the clear revelation of God, and that as sinners saved by grace we are to seek to obey it as well as we can.

    That final point is what the post is about… as we deal with sin in our lives and the lives of those close to us, we must wisely balance what it means to uphold God’s truth while showing grace in the knowledge that we ourselves desperately need grace.

    If you disagree about what Scripture says, but have a real desire to submit to it, we’d just ask that you get in touch with a good pastor or church where the Bible is held to be the inerrant word of God.

    If you disagree about whether it is true or is to be obeyed, we’ll just have to part ways- at that point there’s no real reason to try to convince each other of positions that are mutually exclusive.

    Hopefully we all still caught the main point- dealing with sin in each others’ lives is difficult, and requires patience and humility as we figure out what it means to practice grace in our lives despite the incredible hurt we often put each other through.

    I’m glad the post provoked interest, but isn’t it about time we just decided to move on?

  • Stephen Newport

    Ben,

    Valid points, however, I believe it is in poor taste for an editor to attempt to moderate or end discussion. Sexual views, both historically and presently, enforced by the Christian community is obviously of concern to your readers. If controversial discussion is not desired, disable comments or don’t write the article.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Stephen,

    I’m not really an editor anymore, just an author. There are a lot of things in this comment thread that have been in poor taste; I hardly thing asking, “isn’t it about time we just decided to move on?” is one of them.

    You’ll note that the site editors and the article’s author have not closed off discussion, so if it’s important to you to keep it going, be my guest.

  • Adam E

    GK, I apologise for thinking you are a man, ha oops!

    So same questions, reversed? You appear to be avoiding it, if it hasn’t been moderated? Would your husband be ok with it? You for yourself or for your daughter / son?

    I’m also not up for accepting what is preached on Sunday merely because it is preached. I think and reason and study and debate and come to my own conclusions, and in this issue I am most definitely orthodox. Orthodox == wrong; there are reasons worth exploring as to why people have held to a truth for so long.

    At the end of the day I hold scripture as the highest authority, and therefore we approach this discussion from different ends of the spectrum.

    Porn is a trap and a snare to many men. That to me is not an expression of God’s freedom and design for sex. If you want to be creative with your married sex life then be creative! God is all for it! Write your own sex story, don’t copy someone else’s poor acting, depraved mind and contrived scenarios. My freedom should not hinder someone else’s, and I dare say a significant percentage of women are left with little options due to financial pressures, abuse and drug use.

    Blessings, and signing off!! :)

  • Stephanie C

    First of all, I applaud both Faith and Josh for their courage to address this very volatile and divisive issue with grace and humility. I think we can all agree that this topic is wrought with emotion, and rightly so. Sex is not just a physical act. It is, in its finest form, ecstasy of body, mind and spirit. It is about complete relationship.

    As Jon so aptly stated, “porn takes sex and makes it non-relational.” Regardless of what has been said here to the contrary, porn objectifies people, both men and women. It takes an act that is intensely private and intimate, and degrades it to fodder for public entertainment.
    The truth about insecurities, sexual and otherwise, is that both men and women have them. And the place they show up is inside of relationships, because we are human and we are wired for relationship.

    This discussion seems to have become a battle between women and men, with somewhat surprising sides drawn. I have very strong opinions about what has been stated, and it has definitely fired up some emotions inside of me, both positive and negative. I am not in the business of attacking anyone’s personal opinions, but I will express mine.

    I am a woman. I am a mother, a wife, and a daughter. I am a Christian.

    (WARNING: My children who are reading this can either close their eyes or rejoice at this next statement.) I am also a woman who enjoys sex, greatly, and enjoys great sex. As often as possible. With my husband.

    This has not always been the case. I am in a unique position to comment on this topic from many different perspectives. I was raised in an ultra-conservative environment in my formative years, and am a sexual being. As one can imagine, this created some pretty intense inner turmoil. I was in a marriage that ended in infidelity. Mine. My infidelity had nothing to do with my satisfaction in our marriage, yet everything to do with my satisfaction in our marriage. My husband was addicted to porn. His addiction had nothing to do with his satisfaction in our marriage, yet everything to do with his satisfaction in our marriage.

    Both of those were inner struggles that we fought, lost, and they eventually led (among many other things) to the destruction of our marriage. There was nothing I could do that would have changed that struggle for him, nor is the opposite true. Both were very personal struggles. However, to say that those personal struggles did not affect the relationship would be a lie. But it is a lie that people use every day. A lie which is driven by their insecurities, to cover their insecurities.

    Faith has explained very succinctly how it feels to be on the other side of a pornography addiction. Only someone who has been on that side can understand the complete inadequacy that is felt. The total and utter betrayal and devastation. The desperation to do anything to be *that* object of desire, and the despair that you feel when you are unable to be. She knows. So do I. Josh’s sensitivity to that struggle is thoughtful and admirable.

    Thankfully, a couple of years with a great counselor and a strong inner desire to deal with the things inside of me that were causing the insecurities, have allowed me to come out the other side of this a stronger person. One who is able to put aside the insecurities (for the most part) and have a healthy and whole relationship. I love my life and, therefore, am grateful for the journey. While I know I couldn’t be the person I am today without having gone through the difficult times, I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    Some of you will notice that I have not used the Bible or any Christian debate in this context. I have very strong beliefs about both, but take an even stronger stance that there are many issues that we make into biblical discussions that really transcend religion. They are about being compassionate, considerate, thoughtful, perceptive, gracious human beings who esteem others as well as themselves. Sound familiar?

  • http://wilsonstation.com Jon Trott

    Stephanie C., what a stellar post. Really. Thank you.

    KJ made a few comments I’d like to take a try at answering.

    First, that Christians are repressive toward women’s sexuality. I’d say it depends. Have Christians been so? Yep. Not much of a contest to say some still are. But have Christians also defended a robust sexuality from those who hate the body, hate the idea of spirituality which is incarnational? We of all faiths are the ones who believe in Incarnation, and therefore believe that the flesh itself is truly “good.” We are not gnostics. So to make any sort of blanket condemnation of all Christians based upon the failings of some Christians to understand their own theology’s roots is inappropriate.

    Second, the idea that porn can be good for a couple’s intimate life is one rooted in misunderstanding how porn works. Porn works impersonally. It is about something which cannot in reality exist. Sexuality snapped off from relationality is neither sex nor relationship; it is something far less than either, a demonic mockery, a doppelganger.

    Third, Sexuality is supposed to occur within the wholistic life of two lovers rooted in God’s reality. Thus, my doing the dishes contributes to my wife’s sexual pleasure. (If you don’t know why, think about it.) Sexuality is not all, or even mostly, about the genitals — though of course they do come into it (or out of it, as the case may be). Sexuality is subsumed in Eros, itself servant to Agape. Porn simply has no role within this wholistic paradigm. That doesn’t mean a couple might not find a sex manual (such as the Penners’ “Gift of Sex” or Doug Rosenau’s “Celebration of Sex” [even better]) helpful.

    Fourth, or rather as a summary of sorts… watching porn, having sex while consuming porn… it removes the focus from the lovers’ faces and puts it between their legs…. between someone elses’ legs, and really merely on the orgasm. Porn is primarily used as a masturbatory experience… even with a lover. And then there’s the addictive qualities of porn… but I’ve covered that some already and won’t go on. Embrace the beloved, not pixels, not the heroin jolt of impersonal bodies engaged in coitus. Embrace one’s mate, and in that holy hedonistic embrace know Agape as well.

  • jon

    thanks for writing about this. it took alot of vunerablity and bravery on both you and your husband’s parts. Please continue to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidiance.


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